Marine zone plan in Pagham is put on hold

Planned marine protection in Pagham has been put on hold.

The government has delayed the launch of a marine conservation zone for the harbour area.

Pagham Parish Council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall welcomed the temporary halting of the plans after fisheries minister Richard Benyon said not enough backing for the zones had been submitted.

Mr Benyon believes advice from the science advisory panel contains ‘gaps and limitations in the scientific evidence base supporting the zone recommendations’.

Cllr Radmall said: “The minister’s action reaffirms some of the doubts that have been expressed about the zone being imposed in Pagham.

“We believed there was a lack of evidence for the perceived reference area at the heart of the zone. The delay also indicates our belief was correct that the whole process was rushed.

“I hope those people who will be most affected by the zone will now have the chance to make their voices heard loud and clear.”

The zones are intended to form a network around Britain’s coast to protect wildlife. Each zone will have a reference area where activities will be strictly limited. In Pagham, this area is based around a sighting of Defolin’s snail to residents’ anger.

But Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, of the Marine Conservation Society, “We want to know how many more millions, and how much more time will need to be spent, to ensure the government gets the evidence it is seeking.”